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Study: Food and Wine Travel Increases in Popularity

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Study: Food and Wine Travel Increases in Popularity

Courtesy of Washington Wine Center

A first-of-its-kind national survey on the popular food and wine market shows that 27 million travelers, or 17% of American leisure travelers, engaged in culinary or wine-related activities while traveling within the past three years, according to a the Travel Industry Association (TIA), in partnership with Gourmet and the International Culinary Tourism Association. Released in February 2007, it announced that 60% of U.S. leisure travelers are interested in food and wine travel in the near future.

This means that event planners should incorporate food and wine events into the calendar of business events at some point throughout the year.

And food and wine events can be hosted everywhere in the country. Although California is the most popular destination, a good event planner can recreate many elements of that same experience elsewhere.

Findings on Wine-Related Travel

Wine travelers spend, on average, $973 per trip, with about one-fourth (23% or $219) of their travel budget going towards wine-specific activities. Those considered to be “deliberate” wine travelers spend more of their overall travel budget on wine-related activities ($950 average trip cost; $339 or 36% spent on wine-related activities). Top destinations include:

  • California (31%)
  • New York (10%)
  • Missouri (5%)
  • North Carolina (5%)
  • Oregon (5%)
  • Pennsylvania (5%)
  • Washington (4%)
  • Virginia (4%)
  • Texas (4%)
  • Florida (2%)
  • Michigan (2%)
  • Ohio (2%)

Findings on Food-Related Travel

On average, food travelers spend $1,194 per trip, with over one-third (36% or $425) of their travel budget going towards food-related activities. Those considered to be “deliberate” food travelers (culinary activities were the key reason for trip) tend to spend a significantly higher dollar amount of their overall travel budget on food-related activities ($1,271 average trip cost; $593 or 50% spent on food-related activities). Top destinations include:

  • California (14%)
  • Florida (10%)
  • New York (7%)
  • Texas (6%)
  • North Carolina (4%)
  • Georgia (4%)
  • Louisiana (3%)
  • Illinois (3%)
  • Nevada (3%)
  • Pennsylvania (3%)
  • Washington (3%)
  • Hawaii (3%)
  • Michigan (2%)
  • Arizona (2%)
  • Virginia (2%)

Appropriate for All Ages

It may surprise some, but culinary travelers are younger, more affluent and better educated than non-culinary travelers. They are clearly motivated by unique experiences, reinforcing the benefits of focusing on a destination’s individual environmental and cultural elements.

“The study demonstrates that a sizable proportion of the U.S. leisure market does indeed make travel decisions based on a desire for wine and culinary experiences. In fact, it confirms that wine and culinary experiences are a driver of destination choice,” said Laura Mandala, Vice President of Research for the Travel Industry Association.

Culinary Events and Activities

Leisure travelers are more likely to take local foods and wines back home with them. And while business event planners should create unique programs that cannot be experienced during leisure travel, it’s helpful to understand what activities travelers incorporate so that event planners can enhance these experiences:

  • Cooking classes
  • Dining out for a memorable experience
  • Visiting farmers markets
  • gourmet food shopping
  • Participating in winery tours
  • Driving a wine trail
  • Tasting locally made wines
  • Attending wine festivals

The study also provided in-depth data about what is being called the “serious” culinary traveler, one who intentionally seeks out wine and food experiences while traveling. Food and wine travel has reached the tipping point as a niche and an industry. Unique food and drink is a perfect special event.

The survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,364 U.S. leisure traveler respondents.

TIA is the national, non-profit organization representing all sectors of the travel industry. Gourmet, The Magazine of Good Living, celebrates the pleasures of dining, entertaining and travel with an affluent and active audience. ICTA facilitates product development and marketing, promoting culinary tourism education.

The survey was also sponsored in part by the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, Arizona Office of Tourism, California Tourism, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau, National Restaurant Association, North Carolina Department of Tourism, Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism, Oregon Culinary Tourism Association, Pennsylvania Tourism Office, Professional Association of Innkeepers International, Savannah Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development.

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